To characterize this team as a compilation of superstars is to ignore the depth and more importantly the true make-up of these New York Yankees. This is not the same team we have seen in recent years, an odd combination of studded puzzle pieces that never quite fit together. Gone is the concern for individual achievements over team accomplishments, the philosophy that talent alone trumps work and team chemistry. With it’s bloated payroll and impressive lineup I put it to you that in its essence this is truly a blue collar team, a team that works through the errors, the unfortunate bounces, the opportunities lost, work, work, work.
Game 2 of the ALCS is a perfect example: How else do you explain overcoming wild pitches, 3 infield errors, hitting into 3 straight double plays, the middle of the order going 0 for 8. Work, work, work. Alex Rodriguez goes 0 for 5 after charging home plate in game 1, and in the bottom of the 9th with an 0-2 count goes yard for his 3rd game-tying HR of the post-season. Work, work, work. Johnny Damon who hit .083 in the Minnesota series has shown up big time in this series posting a .364 batting average through two games and flashing the leather in key moments tonight. Work, work, work.
These Yankees know anyone can come through in the clutch. The success of the bottom of this lineup in close games have made this team legendary in my eyes, must we recount the number of comeback and walk-off wins? The soul of this team belongs to the likes of Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera, and Robinson Cano to name a few. This team can overcome squandering a bases loaded opportunity with A-Rod at the plate, only to see Jerry Hairston, Jr (WHO?) get a leadoff single in his first postseason plate appearance and score the winning run. Most people will discount this win to Izturis’ error, but as Captain America put it “you gotta give credit to Jerry for running hard the whole way”.
Everybody works, everybody contributes, everybody runs hard the whole way, this is the 2009 New York Yankees rallying cry. As Mariano Rivera put it when asked what it took to win a game like this tonight, “everything, it took everything, it took everything from everybody”.
I owe my allegiance to the Yankees to my Father who shared with me his passion for baseball and love for the Pinstripes. In Cuba I was immersed in baseball from a young age, it is after all a right of passage for Cubans and Cuban-Americans both in the Island and in Miami where I reside. I'm fascinated by the unexplored aspects of this game, the hidden rules about behavior on the field and in the locker room, the undefined characteristics of team chemistry, the unequivocal influence of the baseball gods, in short the intricate nature of a sport that in my humble opinion is still America's game. I hope you enjoy my perspective on things and join in the conversation. Go Yankees!